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The Battle of Hunayn | Daiyah

Battle of Hunayn

غزوة حنين

The resounding victory of the Muslims over the Quraysh and the ever-increasing conversions to Islam deeply frightened the enemies out of their senses. Therefore, these adversaries made another attempt, as a last remedy of sort, to check Islams fast growing power and popularity but all these failed, rendering their efforts completely inutile.


Hawazin were the old enemies of the Quraysh who considered themselves as their rivals in power and prestige. The submission of the Quraysh to the rising power of Islam had made them undisputed champions of paganism, as they began to harbor hopes of winning the laurels by bringing the Muslims upon their knees. They saw a god-sent opportunity to build up their fame on the declining prestige of the Quraysh.

The Hawazin chief, Malik b. Auf al-Nasari declared he was against the Muslims which was seconded by several other tribes like Thaqif, Nasr, Jusham and Sad b. Bakr. Two clans of Hawazin, Kab and Kilab, kept away from Malik b. Auf, but the rest of the alliance commissioned their forces to descend on the Prophet (peace be upon him). They also took their cattle, women and children, staking everything on the issue of the battle, in order to ensure that every one would fight to the last and that nobody would retreat or get back to their homes.

An old veteran Durayd b. al-Simma, who was known for his competence in the art of warfare, also accompanied the Hawazin army that took its bivouac at Autas.(58) Their camp reverberated with the groaning of the camels, braying of the asses, bleating of the sheep and goats as well as with the crying of the children. Malik instructed his men: Break your scabbards as soon as the Muslims are in sight and then attack them as one man. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, pp. 437-39)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) had with him two thousand Meccans, some of whom were recent converts while others had yet to accept Islam, along with the ten thousand troops he had brought from Medinah. This was thus the strongest force mobilized so far to defend the honor of Islam. The Muslims were, naturally, overconfident because of their great strength while some even exultantly boasted that they could not be defeated now for want of numbers. (TAfsir Tabari, Vol. X; pp. 63-64)

The Prophet (peace be upon him) obtained on credit, on this occasion, some coats of mail and arms from Safwan b. Umayyah although the latter was still a polytheist. (Ibn HIsham, Vol. II, p. 440)


The people of Mecca who had joined the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this battle were fresh from paganism. And during the days of heathenism, some tribes of Arabia used to venerate a great green tree known as Dhat-u-Anwat, under which they stayed for a day suspending their weapons to its branches and offering sacrifices beneath it. When these men were traveling together with the army, they happened to pass by a big shady tree, which reminded them of the one they had adored in the past. They immediately requested the Prophet (peace be upon him): Make us a tree, as we used to have Dhat-u-Anwat, O Messenger of Allah. The Prophet (peace be upon him) replied, God is Great! Him who holds my life in His hand, you say what the people of Moses said to him: Make for us a god even as they have gods. He (Moses) said: Lo! Ye are a folk who know not. (Qur'an 7:138) The Prophet (peace be upon him) then added, Verily, you would follow every custom of the people before you. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 442)


It was the 10th of Shawwal, 8 A.H. when the army reached Hunayn. Descending the wadi in the morning twilight, the enemy had already taken its position. Through the glens and hollows and craters of the volley of arrows was all that the Muslims saw of the enemy, then suddenly the enemy followed up the attack with full force. Hawazin were celebrated archers. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 442, pp. 442-43)

The sudden onslaught forced the Muslim contingents to charge back and they fled in terror with none heeding the other. The battle had taken a dangerous turn as a complete rout of the Muslims was already imminent without any possibility of an orderly retreat or rallying of their force again. As in the battle of Uhud, when the rumor of the Prophet 's (peace be upon him) death had depressed the Muslims, the troops were once more driven to despair in Hunayn under a similar extent.


Some of the rude fellows from Mecca who had joined the Muslim army but were not strong in faith started talking about their dissatisfaction and frustration with Islam. One said, Their exodus will stop before they get at the sea. Another man remarked, The spell of their sorcery has ended today. (Ibn Hsiham, Vol. II, pp. 442-44)


The Muslims had to suffer this defeat after the brilliant victory of Mecca as if by way of punishment for their reliance on numbers instead of the succor of God. Their faith needed to be strengthened by a misadventure for they have to realize that both victory and defeat came from God and that neither one should make man exultant nor the other despondent. The Muslims were all too preoccupied with their plight when the peace of God seemed to be descending on them and the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) had all the while stood firm on his place, riding his white mule, without any fear or shivers. Only a few of the Ansaar and Muhaajirun nor his relatives were then with him. Abbaas b. Abdul Muttalib was holding the bridle of his mule while Gods Prophet (peace be upon him) was calling aloud: Verily, I am the Prophet (peace be upon him) without falsehood; I am son of Abdul Muttalib.(59)

In the meantime, a detachment of the enemy advanced towards him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) took a handful of dust and threw it into their eyes.

When the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw his men in confusion, he said, O Abbaas call out, O Ansaar, O comrades of the acacia tree.(60) All those who heard the cry, responded, Here we are . Abbaas had a aloud voice. Whoever heard him calling got off from his camel and came to the Prophet (peace be upon him). When sufficient number of men had gathered around, they rallied upon the enemy. A collision between the two parties started anew. The Prophet (peace be upon him) then proceeded to an elevated area along with some of his companions. He saw both forces grappling with one another which prompted him to remark: Now the battle has grown hot. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 445) He threw a few pebbles on the enemy. Abbaas relates that he saw the enemy started becoming lackadaisical thereafter, finally conceding the day to the Muslims. (Sahi Muslim)

Both groups of armies fought bravely. However, before all those Muslims who had fled away had returned, the enemy was discomfited and a party of handcuffed prisoners was brought before the Prophet (peace be upon him). (Ibn Hisham , Vol. II, p. 445) Allah helped the Prophet (peace be upon him) with the hosts of heaven to win the day and brought Hawazin to surrender. (Sahi Muslim, Kitab-ul-Jihad, Ghazwaz Hunayn)

Allah hath given you victory in many fields and on the day of Hunayn, when ye exulted in your multitude but it availed you naught, and the earth, vast as it is, was straightened for you; then ye turned back in fight;

Then Allah sent His peace of reassurance down upon His messenger and upon the believers, and sent down hosts ye could not see, and punished those who disbelieved. Such is the reward of the disbeliever."

[Qur'aan 9:25-26]


 The bitterness and rancor borne by the  pagans against Islam dissipated after the  battle of Hunayn. The last stronghold of  paganism was thus toppled down through  this battle such that no formidable  opponent of Islam remained in Arabia. The  surviving tribes proceeded to Madinah from  every part of Arabia to put their trust in  Allah and His Prophet (peace be upon him).


A part of the routed enemy fled to Taif and shut the gates of the city. The chief of Hawazin, Malik b. Auf, was also with them. A detachment sent by the Prophet (peace be upon him) under Abu Amir al-Ashari overtook another party of the enemy encamped at Autas, engaged it to a duel and routed it completely. (Ibn Kathir, Vol. III, p. 460) When the captives and spoils of Hunayn were brought to the Prophet (peace be upon him), he ordered that they be brought to Jirrana (61) and be kept under custody there. (Ibn Hisham, Vol. II, p. 459)

The captives of Hunayn numbered six thousand. The spoils included twenty-four thousand camels, forty thousand or more goats and four thousand awqiya of silver. This was the largest spoil so far to have fallen into the hands of the Muslims. The Prophet (peace be upon him) had given orders to the troops before the conquest started mandating them to shun the women, children, men hired for non-combatant purposes and the slaves from the wrath of their hands. A woman was, however, killed in the process. This incident did not elude the Prophet (peace be upon him) causing him to feel remorseful about it afterwards. (Ibn Kathir, Vol. III, p. 638) 

Lessons from the Battle of Hunayn

 The cause for defeat has been very clearly manifested through numerous situations in our history; it is a deficiency in the tarbiyah (education and cultivation). A clear manifestation of this is what happened in the battle of Hunayn when Muslims were defeated at the beginning of the battle, about which Allah said: #"And on the day of Hunayn, when you rejoiced at your great number, but it availed you naught, and the earth - vast as it is - was straightened for you, then you turned back in flight."# (9: 25) 

Imam Ibn al-Qayyim said: "From the wisdom of Allah, He first gave them a taste of the bitterness of defeat and of being overcome, despite their large number, preparation and strength, in order that heads which had been raised up due to the conquest of Makkah, should be lowered out of humility before their Lord, humbling before His Greatness and submitting to His Might. 

All of this occurred so that He should make clear to those who said: "We will not be defeated today because of our numbers!" Explaining to them that the victory comes only from Him and that whomsoever He aids, then none can overcome him; and whomsoever He forsakes, then there is none to grant victory to him, besides Allah. 

And that He took it upon Himself to aid and grant victory to His Messenger and His deen (religion) - not due to their large number which they (falsely) delighted in, since that was of no avail to them. Rather, they fled, turning their backs. So when their hearts had become downcast, Allah sent them the removal of their distress and a prior taste of victory, by sending down His tranquility upon His Messenger and upon the believers and by sending down the unseen forces (i.e. the Angles). So from His wisdom was that He only granted victory and its gifts to them when their hearts had become downcast and saddened:

#"And We desired to do a favour to those who were weak in the land, and to make them leaders and make them the inheritors. And to establish them in the land, and We let Fir'awn (Pharaoh) and Haaman and their hosts receive from them that which they feared."# (28: 5-6)

**Impatience: an Obstacle against Tarbiyah***

From that which negates tarbiyah and prevents its completion is: being hasty and having lack of sabr (patient perseverance). This produces a negative result, the least of which is a delay in victory. Our Lord said: #"And what made you hasten from your people, O Musa (Moses)? He replied: They are close on my footsteps, and I hastened to You O my Lord, that You might be pleased."#( 20: 83-84) 

A clear goal and a clear intention: #"I hastened to You, O my Lord, to please You."# So Allah said: #"Indeed We have tried your people in your absence, and As-Saamiree has led them astray."# (20: 85)

So this is Musa, and he was one of the Ulul- 'Azm (foremost in resolve) from the Messengers, yet he sought to hasten the affairs. So when he sought to hasten the affairs, fitnah (trial and discord) occurred amongst his people - which was that they began worshipping others besides Allah. 

Ib al-Qayyim said: "Whosoever considers the trials and discords that have come upon Islam, the small and the great of them, will realize that they were due to abandoning this principle of not being hasty, and of having Sabr (patience) upon that which is harmful, and seeking to remove the harm in a hasty manner. This in turn produces that which is greater and worse than the initial harm." 

**Tarbiya and Sabr (Education and patience): the Key to Victory***

Muhammad Qutb said in his book: Waaqi'unal Mu'aasir, while he was speaking about the Islamic Movements in Egypt, internally and externally. "So with regard to within the country, then there occurred from them hastiness in showing the strength of the jamaa'ah (i.e. the Muslims) - whether in making themselves manifest, or in demonstrations, protest marches, entering into political affairs of the time - such as fighting the communists; and supporting the affairs of the country in the security council, and other than that. 

It is as if the jamaa'ah, each and every time, wanted to say: we are here, and we are able to do such and such… leaving aside the matters of the day. Was this something which was permissible for the Muslim jamaa'ah to enter into? Or was its obligation to call to the correction of the fundamental manhaj (methodology) of living, to the establishment of the firm pillars and to the perfection of the desired tarbiyah. However, seeking to hasten the movement before its time, then produced an effect upon the overall direction." 

What will very clearly demonstrate the matter of hastiness and its many negative effects is the saying of Allah when He said: 

#"Have you not seen those who were told to hold back their hands (from fighting) and perform salaat (prayer) and give the Zakaat (obligatory charity), but when fighting was ordained for them, behold! A section of them fear men as they fear Allah, or even more. They say: Our Lord! Why have You ordained fighting for us? Would that You had granted us respite for a short period."# (4: 77) 

"So those who were resolved upon jihad and loved it, when they were tested with it, they were averse to it and fled from it." And they were from the Companions of the Prophet
 those who received tarbiyah (cultivation and education) beneath the shade of Revelation and whom were guided by the Sharee'ah (Islamic Law). So how about those after them - the greatest of whom cannot even reach a handful, or even half a handful, of their caliber? 

So finally: due to all that has preceded, it has been said by the Callers to Islam and the people of culture, and the people of Movements - after previously denying it: "Indeed I certainly believe in the strength of knowledge, and I believe in the strength of culture and learning, but I have a greater belief in the strength of tarbiyah." 

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كما صليت على إبراهيم وعلى آل إبراهيم إنك حميد مجيد
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وآخر دعواهم أنِ الحمد لله ربِّ العالمين  


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